KEEPING FAITH

KEEPING FAITH

My last semester in university was a roller coaster, but it turned out better than I thought it would be. At first, I wanted nothing more than to just graduate and leave the place, seeing as I’d been outed by my homophobic ex-lover and was feeling the tenseness that came from being in such a spotlight.

Then something unexpected happened. Even though I got the expected evil looks from the cowardly homophobes, nothing untoward or ugly happened to me. In fact, fellow students, guys and girls, would come up to me to ask me questions to satisfy their curiosity about gay people. Most of these questions were ignorant, but I took it all in stride, doing my best to educate whoever came to me on the humanity of gay people. Some guys, especially my hostel mates, took to teasing me, but I took the steam out of that when I played along instead of react with any offense. They’d call me a “homo who behaves like a woman” and that my ass must have been “scattered by others homos”, and I’d laugh gaily and strut that ass so they’d see what their girlfriends can’t give them. Eventually, they got tired of trying to shame someone who refused to be ashamed.

I got so comfortable with being who I am in full view of the student body, that I began to subconsciously feel bad that this had to happen in my final semester. I wished I’d had enough time, enough semesters, to really enjoy being out and gay in this school. I felt bad that I’d soon be graduating, and that meant that I would soon leave behind my best life as a proud, gay man.

But I wasn’t about to leave without furthering my message about the humanity of people like me. As a pastor’s son who was also somewhat active in the school’s Christian circle, I decided to take my message to the place where it is least welcomed.

During an evening program, I was called upon to give the sermon. I will never forget how hard my heart pounded as I took my position before the eyes of these brethren. I’d volunteered at the Centre for Population Health Initiatives for a bit after the lockdown, and being part of that advocacy gave me the fortitude I needed to speak my truth to this crowd. I knew what I wanted to say. But what would they say in response? How would they react? Would I be thrown out before I’d even had the chance to finish my sermon of love?

And that was the title of my preaching: God is Love.

I talked about the struggle of the gay community both in Nigeria and in the world at large. I talked about the God who created us all and how much He must love us to give us life, knowing who we are right from birth.

I talked about the Ten Commandments, and the charge that Jesus gave to us: to love our neighbours as ourselves. I talked about how that was the ultimate rule of being a Christian: to love – and how desperately we as Christians had missed that mark.

I quoted a verse from the Bible, 1 John 4:8, saying, “…but anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”

From there, I dived into the prejudice against gay people, condemning these characteristics as anti-love, and so therefore, anti-God. I pointed out that being homophobic means you bear ill-will against your neighbour, which is ungodly as God is love.

Then I asked them questions. That if they loved as Jesus had told us to love, would they judge their neighbours? Kill them? Discriminate against them based on their sexual preferences?

And they said no.

Then I finished my sermon with the words: “May God bless you as you love your neighbour as yourself.”

That went well. When I was done and the program continued, I started bracing myself for some pushback from the chaplain or the staff members who were around. That didn’t happen. Instead, they commended me on the topic I chose to preach about. At the close of the program, some students came to meet me with smiles and admissions that they had never considered the issue of religion and LGBT people the way I put it.

From their midst, I made a friend. Brenda was also in final year. She told me she was pansexual, and that when she attended the program that evening, the last thing she expected to witness was someone coming up on the altar to preach love for the queer community.

A lot of people said a lot of things about how brave I was, and that may be so. But I see this all as a necessary part of our existence as queer Nigerians: to turn every circumstance that seeks to shame us over who we are into a triumph and an avenue to live more authentically. My homophobic ex-lover taught he could put me down by outing me to the school, and under different circumstances, I may have ducked and hidden myself away from the public scrutiny. I could have denied to every ear that wanted to hear. I could have done any number of things that would have ultimately been a lie unto me.

But I chose truth. I chose my truth and I chose to live it. Because, sometimes, the fear of what could happen when we choose to live in our truth is greater than the actual consequence. Sometimes, we are so consumed by the fear of the world seeing us for who we are, that we fail to consider the possibility of the world appreciating us more for that truth.

Written by Mikey

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  1. Mandy
    July 25, 10:26 Reply

    I laud your courage, mehn! Had to go back and read up on your outing story and I must say, there should be more gay folks like you. People who turn the lemons of their tragic outing to the lemonade of gay pride. And to take your audacity to church? Damn. Well done, Mikey. I hope you have been flourishing in the time since then, now that you’ve graduated.

    • Mikey
      July 26, 10:57 Reply

      Thanks for reading, as for how I’m doing now I’ve graduated??? Let’s say I’m just dealing with my family turns out they didn’t really accept me for who I am, I wish I could leave them for good but I guess it’s a struggle I have to face now

    • Mikey
      July 26, 11:01 Reply

      Thank you… all thanks to pinky he’s making me a better activist

  2. Danté
    July 25, 20:57 Reply

    Well done my darling… Bravo!!! 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾

    I do hope we all come to a point in our lives where we live our truth unabashedly as well as learn to educate others in patience about said truth.🙏

  3. GT
    July 26, 17:38 Reply

    We need more of ur courage hun

  4. Gbolly
    July 28, 12:45 Reply

    Mikey
    Gbayi
    You did good,you are a definition of bravery
    I just wish I had an ounce of bravery as you do
    Love you man

    • Mikey
      July 31, 20:29 Reply

      Thank you, I drew strength from other brave queers like pinky and some colleagues from where I worked, I was like since I’m already out why not, thanks for your love, love you too

    • Mikey
      July 31, 20:30 Reply

      Yass and only the truth… thank you

    • Mikey
      July 31, 20:32 Reply

      Yasss, the truth and only the truth

  5. Nel💚
    August 05, 06:21 Reply

    I couldn’t be more proud of you, Mikey. You just made me cry reading this. Thank you! Thank you for bringing religion and the queer community together. Thank you for your bravery.

    I’m soooo proud of you.

  6. Xii_
    August 13, 12:16 Reply

    Wow. This is amazing. Your bravery laudable. Your kindness and patience, inspiring and your confidence very very reassuring.

    We need more people like you Mikey. Thank you and well done!

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